Juan Antonio Romero and his vision of craftsmanship and design

by Sara S.

André Ricard, pioneer of industrial design in Spain, raised the idea that designer and craftsman could become the perfect couple. The craftsman would contribute his “know-how” and the designer his “know what to do”.Thus, they would form a tandem that would fill our lives with unique and useful objects, in a way that industry and its automation could not match.

In Faberin, we find great added value in this union. Therefore, we aim to facilitate the connection between local craftsmen, makers and manufacturers and designers from all over the world. We want to eliminate all existing barriers so that this combination will lead to unique pieces and allow the design to be taken to any corner.

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Pepe Sanmartín, a young designer from Murcia who presented Faberin with his first design ‘Hanger Rope’. Today we want to talk to you about Juan Antonio Romero Vera, an artisan who specializes in the carpentry and joinery trade and who will be the first to make the’Hanger Rope’ design a reality.

Pepe and Juan have worked together several times and their connection is undeniable. In fact, on this occasion, we will meet Juan Antonio through an interview that Pepe himself conducted.

We are eager to know the current panorama of craftsmanship through the eyes of a 48-year-old craftsman who has been immersed in this world all his life, and you?

Here we go!

Juan Antonio Romero Vera, maker at Faberin, working at his workshop

Juan Antonio Romero Vera, maker at Faberin, working at his workshop

“For the love of art”.

The first question that comes to mind when we want to know more about a professional and his profession is when and why he decided that this was his place , if he was always clear about it, if he suddenly discovered it… In the case of Juan Antonio, he has lived since he was a child the carpentry trade, since his father worked all his life as a lathe operator. And although in some cases this situation conditions the decision of the children to continue with the family business, it was not the case of Juan Antonio.

He says he was studying and didn’t need to work. But every day, he saw his father carrying out the tasks of his trade and it caught his attention. So much so that I always ended up giving him a hand. He remembers, it’s a world that always attracted him: “I liked to take a wooden block and get something nice out of it”. He did it for fun, for the sake of doing new things, for learning and for his unquestionable passion for wood.

This is how, little by little, Juan Antonio learned his father’s trade, handling the lathe perfectly. Although, as all wood trades are closely related, being a wood turner means knowing a little bit about other trades (knowing how to glue wood, making rebates, etc.), just as carpentry is nourished, in a way, by woodwork.

At present, the decline in demand for lathe work has made Juan Antonio learn new specialties, making him a more versatile professional and acquiring a greater capacity to adapt to new needs.

One of the working tables of the workshop of the craftsman Juan Antonio Romero Vera

One of the working tables of the workshop of the craftsman Juan Antonio Romero Vera

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Juan Antonio Romero and his vision of craftsmanship today.

When Juan Antonio was asked about the evolution of craftsmanship, his answer was categorical“Craftsmanship has not evolved, if it has evolved it has been lost”. He says that craftsmanship has disappeared as such, that there are still some family workshops where there is still some interest in this manual work. Find in automation a cause of this dramatic decline. The hyper-machining has devastated artisan work: “Now the pieces are made in series with numerical control machines”.

Juan Antonio believes that society values craftsmanship as something rare and at the same time admiring, because of the few remaining examples of it. He believes that craftsmanship has been declining, since everything began to be mechanized with the Industrial Revolution of the 17th century. Some guilds disappeared completely years ago and others are doing so, gradually, now.

Juan Antonio Romero Vera working at his workshop

Juan Antonio Romero Vera working at his workshop

Connection between craftsmanship and design.

What do you think Juan Antonio thinks about the union of craftsmanship and design?

Your position is clear. As a craftsman, he finds no difference between these two materials. He doesn’t think they are two different things, he sees in craftsmanship and design two matters that have always been linked. He describes the craftsman as a professional who has always had to master the field of design a little. But, he adds to this statement that, in his role as a designer, the craftsman has always found certain limits: traditional ideas and ornamental styles established by the current that corresponded to that time.

For this reason, Juan Antonio does not believe that the figure of the designer is detracting from that of the artisan, but quite the contrary. He defends that the designer adds to the work of the craftsman, providing him with guidelines from his technical knowledge and experience. Thus, the artisan can focus on manual making. But, this goes beyond that. Since this connection is mutually beneficial, just as the designer can contribute his or her knowledge to the craftsman, the craftsman can provide practical advice and criteria for the designer to take into account when considering the materialization of the design.

Without a doubt, this connection favours a multitude of synergies that are reflected in the unique pieces that result from this union. The added value of each piece will have its own details and personality. And that it will keep a little bit of the history of each of the parties involved. It will tell a little about the designer who conceived it, the professional who has made it a reality with his own hands and the person who will eventually acquire it and has been able to add his own personalization to this process. This is what sets Faberin apart from the rest. The value of focusing on details, connections and unique results.

The designer Pepe Sanmartín concluded from this interview that: “there is a part of the craftsmanship that is aware of the danger of extinction of its trades and see in the design a tool that can help the craftsmanship
Evolve in coherence with society.”

'Hanger Rope' by product designer Pepe SanMartín

'Hanger Rope' by product designer Pepe SanMartín

The craftsman Juan Antonio Romero will be the first manufacturer of “Hanger Rope” by the designer Pepe Sanmartín. If you’re a craftsman, manufacturer or maker and you want to be the first to make exclusive designs, take the step: join Faberin and discover which design goes best with you. Remember, at Faberin, you set the price and decide which markets you want to sell to. At Faberin, you are the protagonist.

Words by Sara S.

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